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Louis Smith retires from gymnastics, cites ‘minuscule’ 2020 chances

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Louis Smith, who ushered Great Britain’s recent surge in 2008 with its first Olympic gymnastics medal in 80 years, retired after earning four medals among three Games.

Smith last competed on the top level at the Rio Olympics, where he earned his third straight pommel horse medal, a silver after a bronze in 2008 and a silver in 2012. Smith also helped Great Britain to team bronze at London 2012.

Smith shared the top score in the 2012 Olympic pommel horse final but was relegated to silver behind Hungarian Krisztian Berki via tiebreaker with Kate Middleton in attendance. He came out of retirement to make his third Olympic team for Rio.

“I’m a baby in the grand scheme of things, yeah, but, sporting world, I’m getting on a little bit,” the 29-year-old said on British TV on Thursday. “Last year, I had the mindset that given the time around now I was going to get back into training and try and push towards 2020. But then certain situations arised. The whole qualification process has changed. There’s a very minuscule chance I’ll even qualify. I thought, give it a chance, but then new opportunities come up.”

Revamped Olympic gymnastics qualification places a greater emphasis on all-around gymnasts for the team event, dropping rosters from five men to four.

Athletes can also qualify for individual spots via the apparatus World Cup series, but only one spot is available per apparatus, and it could require a busy competition schedule over the 16 months.

“I guess there’s a day that every sportsman or woman knows is going to arrive in their career,” Smith said in a social media video. “For me, that day is today. … It’s been a very hard point to get to this decision, but it has been made. But I’ve had an incredible career.”

Smith, also a five-time world championships medalist, won “Strictly Come Dancing” in 2012 and will star in the musical “Rip it Up” on London’s West End in February.

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Lizzy Yarnold, double Olympic skeleton champion, retires

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Lizzy Yarnold, the 2014 and 2018 Olympic skeleton champion for Great Britain, has retired from the sport.

“I have lived out my dream and achieved far more than I ever thought possible in my 10 years in the sport,” Yarnold said, according to the Guardian. “but it’s time to move on. I am ready for a fresh challenge.”

Yarnold, 29, became the first Brit to earn multiple Olympic titles with her repeat gold in PyeongChang in February — and the first skeleton slider with two golds.

“At PyeongChang I didn’t want to go into the race thinking about retiring, and then afterwards I didn’t want to make the decision for the wrong reason, in rash emotion,” Yarnold said, according to the Telegraph. “So now when I’ve gone through all this rehab for the past six months [plus July back surgery], I’m retiring for the right reasons — not through injury, not for a bad competition, or any other reason but because I love the sport, and I’ve loved 10 years of it, but I think I’m ready.”

Yarnold bowing out further boosts 23-year-old German Jacqueline Lölling‘s hopes for a third straight World Cup season title and repeat world title this winter. Lölling and 30-year-old Brit Laura Deas took silver and bronze in South Korea behind Yarnold, who erased a .02 deficit to Austrian Janine Flock with a track record on her fourth and final run.

Yarnold’s chief rival leading into her first Olympics in Sochi in 2014 was the now-retired Noelle Pikus-Pace, one of the great American stories of those Games.

Yarnold dominated in Russia with the fastest run all four times down the track. Pikus-Pace, a mother of two, came out of a two-year retirement in 2012 and grabbed silver, four years after missing bronze in Vancouver by one tenth of a second.

Yarnold also earned a World Cup season title in 2014 and a world championship in 2015.

Great Britain, not a winter sports power, earned at least one medal in evrey Olympic women’s skeleton competition — Alex Coomber took bronze in 2002, Shelley Rudman silver in 2006 and Amy Williams gold in 2010.

“That feeling when you leave the changing room, walk out to the start block, with your jacket done up and your salopettes on and crash helmet in hand — a feeling of almost growing two inches taller because of being empowered, feeling in control,” Yarnold said, according to the Telegraph, “there’s something so magical about that, so I will miss that. But it’s also really tiring.”

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Geraint Thomas’ Tour de France trophy stolen

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PARIS — Team Sky says the Tour de France trophy won by Geraint Thomas has been stolen from a cycling show in Britain.

The team says police are investigating after the trophy disappeared during an event in Birmingham, where Team Sky displayed the three Grand Tour trophies won by its riders.

In addition to this year’s Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, a rider for Sky also claimed the 2017 Spanish Vuelta title.

Sky says “regrettably, during the clear-up operation at the end of the event, Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France trophy was momentarily left unattended and stolen.”

Thomas, who won his first Grand Tour title this year, asked the thieves to return the trophy.

Thomas says “it is incredibly unfortunate that this has happened. It goes without saying that the trophy is of pretty limited value to whoever took it, but means a lot to me and to the team. Hopefully whoever took it will have the good grace to return it.”

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